The Brecilian Forest is a breath of fresh air and just because most of the Nature of the Beast questline takes place outside.
I never want to say that games need to be shorter. Too often a game might not have enough content to be worth the standard $60. Or worse, all of the price justification is in the multiplayer mode which does not cater to me at all. Granted most of the games I play on here I have gotten on sale so I have no complaints, but those who buy at regular price, you want a lot of content. Sometimes that game has to last you months. I know I sucked all of the life out of games growing up and in college. I borrowed Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga from a friend in middle school and beat it approximately fourteen times.
But if you’ve been following my progress through Dragon Age: Origins, you know I vacillate between intrigue and fatigue. I become enamored with a new area but get exhausted after trekking through similar tunnels, caves, and magical lands for hours on end without any convenient way to take a break from the monotony. This final push to collect enough allies to take on Loghain was the most balanced main quest I have done so far. You start off going through two sections of the forest looking for information about the werewolf curse and searching for Witherfang all upon Zathrian’s request. The two areas are just big enough that it feels like the wild but not so large that you can’t backtrack back to camp or leave the Dalish elves behind entirely if you want. For example, a few sidequests I had to do were out in the forest, and I wanted my reward sooner than later. After killing some bandits and looking at some tombstones, I was able to leave the forest and go to other parts of Ferelden for some gold and equipment. At the same time, I didn’t do this more than a couple of times because I wasn’t tired of the trek yet.
After you battle through the woods, you get to a set of ruins—but once again only two separate areas. And am I damn glad for that. There are multiple loot holes full of gems and silver to sell. Finding one topped my inventory off, and with this area’s set-up, it was not a ridiculous idea still to back out and sell off my goods. And still nothing here took me too long. After finding the Lady of the Forest, I thought I was going to have to go back to camp to find Zathrian to fulfill her request, making what I did only a small leg of the journey. I can’t say how many times in Orzammar I thought the campaign for king was almost over when they through a new area or task or favor at me. But in a twist in both gameplay and story, he was there waiting for me despite not claiming to know anything about these ruins and where to find the Lady of the Forest and Witherfang.
After bring him back with me, the quest concludes with a battle. No loose ends. No final requests. Nada. Taking out the extra wandering and backtracking I did by my own choice, I think this quest took me five hours tops. This is radically different from past ones where you hit double-digit hours even if you blitz right through. And as you might be able to tell already, my two problems with the Circle of Magi and Orzammar quests are:
- Repetitive and similar areas.
- Overstay their welcome.
The first complaint is definitely hard to work around. When playing in the underground city of the dwarves, it doesn’t make narrative sense to have anything look too different from other areas. But this shows it is possible in some cases. I can play around outside and then enter the ominous and wrecked structure that houses the werewolves. As for the length, there is no reason that all of the quests needed to be as exhaustive as they were. I am all for their attempt to show and not tell the story by forcing you to infinitely chase what you are looking for instead of merely being told about it. Instead of finding Branka earlier in the caverns, you must keep delving deeper because that’s what she did in her desperation to find the Anvil of the Void. Following her step for step gives you an idea of how far she was willing to travel for what she wanted—something much more meaningful than a Codex entry. I just wish it could have been more interesting. The conversations and choices between Zathrian and the Lady of the Forest made as much of an impact with a complex dialogue set.
Hey, at least I can applaud Bioware’s attempt and willingness to tell the story using a multitude of different strategies. Now off to the Landsmeet with all of my new allies. Stay tuned.